Cannon Cinema

Photo:Cannon Cinema East Street (formerly the ABC)

Cannon Cinema East Street (formerly the ABC)

The Killing of Sister George, 1969

By Linda, lesbian activist

"The Cannon Cinema in East Street used to be called the ABC and I remember going to see 'The Killing of Sister George' there in 1969 when I was eighteen. I went with a girl from school who became my lover in the following year. I got very nervous during the sex scenes of the film and nearly chewed my necklace in two. It was the only depiction of a lesbian relationship that we had ever seen. Although it was quite depressing we made the most of the opportunity to discuss the subject."

Image and text from the 'My Brighton' exhibit
This page was added on 22/03/2006.
Comments about this page
Was this not the Savoy cinema? It had another entrance on the seafront.
By Maurice White (11/05/2003)
Wasn't the Savoy Cinema, to the immediate south of the Southdown Bus terminal (i.e. Pool Valley) constructed on the site of the Brills Baths?
By Dudley Seifert (24/06/2003)
When first converted into a multi-screen venue in 1975/6, it had four screens, the largest of which occupied almost all of the original circle seating area. Screen 2 was located in the front stalls, 3 and 4 were located in the rear stalls area side by side, separated by a walkway which connected screen 2 with the upper foyer. Screen 1 had facilities to show 70mm film and its projection box was located in the rear of the auditorium. Screens 2, 3 and 4 utilised the same projection area that was in use prior to conversion to 4 screens with 3 & 4 projecting through periscopes. Soon after, 3 & 4 had boxes built on the lower floor as the periscopes weren't entirely successful! From 1991/2 only screens 2,3 & 4 remained open and were renumbered 1, 2 & 3, meaning that Brighton and Hove had lost one of its biggest cinema screens.
By Matt (17/02/2004)
Yup, Matt is right ( still around then Matt ? ) the conversion was originally to a quad then screen 1 was shut down in the early 90's. Not sure about the ballroom being converted to a manager's flat, it was my understanding that the manager's flat was original. Certainly seemed to have a lot of the original features there when I was up there taking photos just before the building closed. I haven't been back inside there after the conversion to pub/club/casino place. Too painful.
By Ruth (01/01/2005)
I worked just twice at the ABC, as it was latterly called, as a relief projectionist. One of the most delightful cinemas I have worked in. Shame the former screen 1 had been closed - it must have been a good place to see a film. It was still there until the end - complete with masking and tabs eh Matt?
By Paul (28/09/2005)

I really miss the ABC/Cannon. Many a happy memory of being taken there by my nan and later with my schoolfriends.  Of course we went there mostly because it was still £2.50, while the Odeon was charging £5. They sometimes got the film names wrong on the ticket, though.

By Kate Miller (30/09/2006)

The flat upstairs was the residence of the district manager in the 1950s, surname Mills. I vaguely knew the daughter when they lived there and my dad was assistant manager. When my mother was in hospital, Dad and I used to have Sunday lunch in the restaurant and I remember the chief projectionist was very kind to me - all the staff were. I am trying to remember some of their names...

By Diane Webb (nee Nixon) (Thirlaway) (06/08/2007)

The very first showing of 'Brighton Rock' was at the Savoy at midnight on a friday in 1948.

By Wayne Wareham (20/09/2007)

I worked at The ABC as it was known then in the early 90s.
It was a lovely old building, it had gone to rot though, the main ballroom upstairs was still there, but the ceiling had partially collapsed and it was inhabited by pigeons. The huge No 1 screen had been closed for years, but the beautiful old silk curtains, enormous amounts of fabric, slightly tattered, were still hanging there. I remember thinking what a terrible waste it was. I also remember the characters who worked there. Mr Ruby was the manager, John the projectionist and especially a lady called Sylvia.
She had worked there for donkeys years. When they were filming the riot scene in Quadrophenia in East St, she panicked because she didn't realise it wasn't a real riot.

By Kate (17/12/2008)

I remember the ABC back in the 1970s and seeing Grease! Wow! what fun times we had there, seeing many films and drinking a carton of Kiora - those where the days!

By Sarah Goacher (01/03/2009)

Yes when originally opened it was The Savoy, in the 1930's I believe. It was indeed built on the site of the old Brills Baths.

By Peter Groves (15/08/2009)

Oh wow, what memories! I remember the ABC when it had one very large screen and an enormous auditorium. They had an open day when it was split into four and you could wonder around the whole building. They showed trailers on all the screens and I remember going to see The Hindenburg in Screen One. Half of the original auditorium had been removed to form the area covered by the other three screens. I also remember that It Shouldn't Happen To A Vet was one of the other films. I walked through those very same doors tonight for the first time since going to see a film, into the most incredible restaurant. It was really weird going into the entrance. There were stairs either side of the main stairs going up to the other screens. I wonder if they, and the projector areas, are still there.

By Simon (23/12/2010)

Message to Kate. The Sylvia you mentioned was my sister-in-law Sylvia Kensett who is sadly no longer with us. The projectionist was John Hanmer who went to the marina cinema.

By Malcolm Sargeant (28/02/2012)

I remember the Savoy Cinema in the 50s/60s, not only as a cinema but also as a Wimpey Bar.  The first upmarket hamberger joint in Brighton, in competition with O'hagens hotdog stall on the seafront.

By Peter Upton (10/10/2012)

On this website there is a good photo of the cinema when it was still the Savoy: http://www.mybrightonandhove.org.uk/page_id__5499.aspx

By Alan Hobden (19/06/2013)

The ABC was a fabulous cinema, a real gem! I remember in 1965 seeing 'Doctor Who and The Daleks' with Peter Cushing. It was in the school holidays and as Dr Who was all the rage then, (still is thank goodness) it was packed. Shame it had to be ruined in the 70's when they split it into several cinemas.

By Paul Clarkson (21/06/2013)

I watched Quadrophenia there, very strange when the film is showing a riot going on outside!

By Ken Valder (23/06/2013)

In the 60s I remember going to a coffee bar located downstairs in the ABC cinema called the Hide-Out. It was quite luxurious with big leather circular sofas and a thick carpet if my memory serves me right.

By J. Sheppard (24/06/2013)

I also watched Quadrophenia, Ken, quite by mistake as it was my daughter's birthday and we were queuing to see Grease. Didn't realise that they were filming - got quite worried as they all came down East Street followed by the police!

By jenny bainbridge (28/06/2013)

We used to go to the Savoy every Sat. evening and after the films we went to the milk bar come coffee bar and have hot chocolate. After gulping that down we would dash over the Old Steine to St. James St. and near the bottom on the right hand side going up was an Italian milk bar which  l think was called Bertancinis (correct me if l am wrong) and from there we would buy an ice cream cornet the likes l have never tasted since. It was unbelievable. We would then race over to Electricity House and catch the last 26 bus to Hollingbury. If l close my eyes l can still taste that ice cream, l will be 71 in Sept. Great, great happy days.

By Gerry Millard (26/08/2013)

I went to this cinema when reopened in the '70s and had free tickets to the first showing of The Hindenberg. 30 or so years later when it was a club, The Toad, I ended up working there!

By Chris117 D (16/02/2014)

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.